China's long-anticipated report detailing what caused one bullet train to crash into another one back in July came out on Wednesday, and while 54 people share the blame, the bulk of the responsibility has been assigned to one dead guy and another who's already in jail, limiting political fallout. The report, which has been delayed at least twice, also found that a lightning strike, which had been mentioned in preliminary findings, started the chain of events that caused the crash. In the country that executed two people for endangering public safety by selling tainted milk, no criminal charges are expected to come from the bullet train crash. The high-speed train system is a major point of national pride, but has long been plagued by defects and widespread corruption, NPR reported in September. Large-scale political consequences from July's crash would embarrass the Communist Party. So, the AP reports, the official findings limit those consequences:
The report affirmed earlier government statements that a lightning strike caused one bullet train to stall and then a sensor failure and missteps by train controllers allowed a second train to keep moving on the same track and slam into it.
Those singled out for blame included former Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun, a bullet train booster who was detained in February amid a graft investigation. Also criticized was the general manager of the company that manufactured the signal, who died of a heart attack while talking to investigators in August.
The decision to assign blame to one figure who already has been jailed and another who is dead, along with mid-level managers who have been fired, suggests further political fallout will be limited.